MASERU – Post their controversial elective conference, the local athletics fraternity continues to flare, torn apart by unrest. Members are still dissatisfied with the way their grievances were handled prior and during the elective conference a fortnight ago.
Mafeteng District Athletics Association (MDAA) and Secretary General of Maseru Athletics Academy Neo Ramarou have penned letters to the chairman of the Independent Electorate Commission (IEC) of the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and Lesotho Sport and Recreation Committee (LSRC) who handled the electoral process, Palo Mohlotsane, saying the elections should be annulled.
An MDAA letter dated March 22, 2021, titled ‘LAF/LAAA Election Protest’ reads in part: “We acknowledge receipt of the judgement your office sent to us on 19th March, 2021, pertinent of the grievances we expressed in the zoom meeting of March 17, 2021. We strongly believe and hope that this judgment was made in the spirit of preparations for free and fair elections and in the interest of the Lesotho youths in athletics.”
The letter further reads: “However, we still believe the claims we laid are valid and should be investigated further.”
MDAA leadership indicates in the letter that while it agrees with the IEC that the road to the elections was initiated in less than 21 days; however, it is important to note that not all time-frame related articles were suspended.
Therefore, the association said, elections should have been guided by laws as they appear in the constitution or the agreement made in a SGM (Special General Meeting) and not assumptions. “The LAF/LAAA executive committee organized a meeting in which some of the articles were suspended to pave the way for elections.
“It is unfortunate that this meeting was never concluded, which is one of the grievances we made the letters we sent earlier.” MDAA still complains about the Qacha’s Nek District Athletics Association’s legitimacy at last Saturday’s elective conference
“Qacha’s Nek membership was only paid to the bank account of the Federation on 19th February 2021. We are aware that Secretary General of the Federation provided evidence that he received membership fee through his Mpesa account in on the 30th July 2020 nonetheless, he did not deposit in into the Federation account nor inform the treasurer about the money so that it recorded in the treasurer’s books on time.
Our constitution is very clear on who handles the finances of the Federation.” The MDAA further protests that Quthing’s nomination list was signed by one Lebohang Tšolo, who is not a member of the Quthing association through any club.
The Mafeteng association also raises the concern about the decision taken by the IEC to deny the Maseru Athletics Academy secretary general, Neo Ramarou, a right to vote during the elections.
“Mr Neo Ramarou was harshly and unconstitutionally denied his legitimate right to vote and represent his association in the elections,” reads the MDAA’s letter.
Ramarou, who was contesting for the Public Relations Officer’s post of the local athletics mother-body (LAF) got nine votes while his competitor for the post, Nkuebe Makhalemele, received ten votes to win.
This was after Ramarou could not vote for himself after the IEC made a ruling that he and Maseru Athletics Academy Public Relations Officer (PRO), Lemohang Mandoro, were excluded from the voting owing to the confusion to who should be part of the conference between them.
Mandoro was said to have been selected by the clubs to represent them at the conference and contest for the PRO, the same post his Secretary General Ramarou was also contesting for.
This was despite that according to LAF, president and the secretary general are preferably the ones to represent the districts at the meetings like that.
Amongst its prayers, the Mafeteng Association says the 20th March elections should be considered null and void, and that Qacha’s Nek athletics mother-body should (have) not participate in the elections until it has reapplied for membership and accepted.
MDAA and the Berea District Athletics Association, amongst others, sought the IEC’s intervention prior to the elective conference on the same issues concerning the Qacha’s Nek District Athletics Association’s legitimacy and others.
The IEC, however, has indicated among other things that it did not have any relevant documentation that serves as prove that all internal remedies were sought.
“Neither, the complainants nor the individuals and third parties brought any evidence to prove or disproof exhaustion of internal measures. Therefore, the IEC cannot on its own accord gather information in that regard,” reads the ICE judgment made prior to the elective conference.
President of the MDAA, Tlotliso Ntai, said they made it clear to the IEC again during the elective conference that they were still not satisfied with the way it handled their grievances prior to the elections.
Mafeteng, Berea and other districts, amongst other things, were pushing for disciplinary action against Tšeliso Pheta and Makara Thibinyane for suing the Lesotho Athletics Federation (LAF) in the courts of law.
Pheta, who was then LAF Vice President, was elected as the new president last Saturday while Thibinyane retained his position as the secretary general.
Pheta narrowly beat Kokolia Mokonyane by ten votes to nine, after the former President Serake Makhaola withdrew from the race for the presidency amid argument over his nomination.
Thibinyane, likewise narrowly beat Thabelo Nthona by the same margin of ten votes to nine for the secretary’s post.
Ntai and Ramoruo told this paper on Tuesday this week that they haven’t received any response, two weeks since they wrote to the IEC.